Follow up answers from NCGE to questions posed by attendees

On this page we will populate answers to common questions asked throughout the NCGE Webinar Series.
Other questions may be answered directly. If you require additional clarification please feel free to contact us at ncgeinfo@ncge.ie

Due to the evolution of Guidance into the ‘remote learning’ realm, it will be important to add a section on remote learning.
There are a number of ways to do this. One example would be to include a section on the Guidance Plan on ‘remote learning’ by referring to the key points in the following documents:

Continuity of Guidance Counselling - Guidelines for schools providing online support for students (DES, 2020)

NCGE Support information for Guidance Counsellors in Schools (NCGE, 2020)

Supervision: Information for Supervisors and Guidance Counsellors (Monaghan Education Centre, 2020)

NEPS advice & resources for keeping children and young people well during Covid-19 (NEPS, 2020)

In any future situation where remote provision of Guidance Counselling is required, Guidance Counsellors are encouraged to continue with practice as ‘normal’ in so far as possible. Guidance Counsellors should check with their school management to ascertain what platform the school would like them to use for one-to-one Guidance Counselling. The following documents have been published by the DES, NCGE and Monaghan Education Centre to support Guidance Counselling and indeed schools during periods of time when remote learning must take place.

Continuity of Guidance Counselling - Guidelines for schools providing online support for students (DES, 2020)

NCGE Support information for Guidance Counsellors in Schools (NCGE, 2020)

Supervision: Information for Supervisors and Guidance Counsellors (Monaghan Education Centre, 2020)

NEPS advice & resources for keeping children and young people well during Covid-19 (NEPS, 2020)

Yes, we can provide CPD in this area if it is needed amongst Guidance Counsellors.
It is important to complete the NCGE survey (before June 1st) and let us know what your CPD needs are.

https://www.ncge.ie/cpd/post-primary/survey/2020

After June 1st, you can email us at ncgeinfo@ncge.ie and let us know your CPD needs. We will do our best to provide CPD as needed.

Yes, we look forward to providing both an English and an Irish version of the resources.

For more information in relation to these upcoming resources click HERE

Decisions about IT equipment and funding support for teachers to acquire technology are made at a local level in consultation with school management.
A recent Circular 0032/2020 which was published during the school buildings closure period, provides details for schools regarding the Grant Scheme for ICT Infrastructure (2019/2020 School Year).

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0031_...

page 2/3: 'funding can be used for the purchase of teaching computers, student shared computers, projectors, networking equipment, cloud based tools, learning platforms, software and education applications, other equipment designed to support the teaching and learning in the school. In the context of school closures, under the current COVID-19 public health crisis, schools can prioritise this funding to support efforts for continuity of learning. Further information concerning items that can be purchased with this funding is contained in the appendix.'

An additional €10m funding was issued to support primary and post-primary schools  ICT requirements in their efforts to support the continuity of learning to support students at risk of educational disadvantage arising from the COVID-19 closures

 

There have been no Guidance inspections during the period of school closures. The last Guidance Inspection report was published on Feb 12th 2020. Guidance Inspections that took place in early 2020 may not be fully processed through all the stages as yet. Inspectors have been in contact with their schools and the Department will communicate with school management about the revised timelines for FV, SR and publication of these outstanding reports.

We would refer you to the answer to a previous question.
Advice please on relevant legislation on working remotely as a Guidance Counsellor?

To provide additional clarity:

See pages 13/14 of Continuity of Guidance Counselling - Guidelines for schools providing online support for students (DES) 

Also Footnote from P13.

'As the school is ultimately the Data Controller, school managers are free to seek individual parental consent for accessing 1-1 online supports, but it is not a pre-requisite. The Irish Data Protection Act (2018) requires prior parentalconsent for children under 16 years of age to avail of ‘information society services’ (e.g. online communications accounts, e-mail or online services), however, there is a specific exemption where the child is seeking preventative or counselling services: “Section 31: (1) The age of a child specified for the purposes of Article 8 [the requirement for prior parental consent] is 16 years of age. (2) For the purposes of the application of Article 8 in the (Irish) State, the reference in that Article to “information society services” does not include a reference to preventative or counselling services.” For this reason, where the student is availing of online guidance counselling services, the prior consent of their parent(s) is not necessary.'

Per page 14 of Continuity of Guidance Counselling - Guidelines for schools providing online support for students (DES)

'School-based e-mail addresses should be used where possible. In the case where students do not have (or have access to) school-based email addresses, the use of personal email addresses should be discussed with school management. If deemed appropriate, the use of personal emails needs to be approved by parents / guardians of the student. School management should develop robust guidelines which indicate appropriate use and boundaries regarding the use of personal emails'

Please also see answer to a previous question

What is required as a GC to be allowed contact my students remotely?

Per - Leaving Certificate 2020: FAQs (Government of Ireland) (33)

'The Department has been in contact with counterparts in the UK and across the EU to explain the position regarding the Leaving Certificate.
Other countries are being asked for as much flexibility as possible for our students. These contacts are continuing. This is also a common challenge in the UK and across the EU'

 

Under current circumstances it may be considered asking school management to keep the current 6th year cohorts e-mail facility live until a date later in the year (for example end of September 2020).

Per a response to a previous question we would also recommend setting an 'out of office reply' on your e-mail account with references in that to sources of ongoing relevant information.

The suitability, practicality and legitimacy of maintaining contact is something that cannot be set out as applicable to all schools.
However, again you could consider -

  • Utilising parental e-mails; do a 'mailshot' before the end of term advising parents re the ongoing references points of support for their 6th year child (the DES / Government of Ireland websites and / or the guidance section of your own schools website)
  • Sending a similar note to the above via Text / through parental WhatsApp group(s)
  • Seek access to the personal e-mail addresses of your 6th year group
    (Please see answer to previous question for more - What is required as a GC to be allowed contact my students remotely?)

On the 21st of May NCGE published a "Review of Academic Year" (Reflection Resource for Staff) " document.

https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary/resources/review/GC

This resource has been developed by NCGE, in consultation with the DES, to support Guidance Counsellors in reflecting on all aspects of Guidance for the academic year 2019/2020. NCGE will look at 'maintaining' this document so that is is of relevance in subsequent years. As part of its future development we welcome your feedback in how this could further address your needs.

Thank you for your feedback and suggestion.

In the early months of 2020 NCGE had been working on 're-organising the layout / presentation of our post-primary resources. Due to the current situation - work on this had to be put on hold. The structure of our 'new' Covid-19 related pages and sections have been developed in relative haste and are constantly evolving. Priority has been given to the development of the resources themselves and THEN making them readily accessible as possible through direction from our weekly e-mail communications. A further challenge has also obviously been the need to provide information not just directly produced by NCGE but also from additional 'guidance impacting' stakeholders. We will be revisiting the revisions to our resource layout over the coming months, we aim to have a revised structure in place for the beginning of the next academic year.


So you are aware - below is the current 'taxonomy' of our Covid-19 related post-primary resources.
All are accessible from the 'holding page' of - https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary

NCGE developed resources and relevant DES Guidance publications
https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary/resources

Information relating to Leaving Certificate 2020
https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary/LC2020

NCGE Webinar Series (Q&A, Presentations, Recordings and Registration links)
https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary/webinars

Resource Sharing Facility
https://www.ncge.ie/covid-19/support/post-primary/resources/sharing

 

At this point, inline with the DES protocol, a Guidance Counsellor will not provide advice to students on changing levels.

See - Protocol for Guidance Counsellors and members of the Student Support Team

21/05/20 - As per Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings (PDF) (DES)

'Students will be asked to confirm their level of entry via an online system. Once this process has completed, the DES will confirm levels of entry back to the school, and the principal/deputy principal will relay this onwards to the teachers.'


For all information relating to the calculation of grades please refer to the below.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (PDF) (DES)
Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings (PDF) (DES)

Leaving Certificate 2020 (Information Portal) (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (Information Portal) (DES)

 

Faraor, faoi láthair níl Euro-Qest ar fáil as Gaeilge ach tá sé ar intinn againn an acmhainn a chur ar fáil as Gaeilge go luath!

 

We recognise that it has been challenging to engage students at a distance. 

It is wonderful to hear that a number of students have provided feedback !
Others may come in time. You can stuill act on the requests of those who wish to engage and encourage others, where possible -

  • Perhaps a follow up text to parents to encourage more students to complete the survey could be sent?
  • Maybe a reminder could be issued by the Year Head at their next virtual assembly?
  • If they do not engage, you can act on the anticipated needs of the students at this time and provide the 6th year ‘tips sheet’ via e-mail to both students and parents / on the school website, and as part of your ‘out of office’ response when the term has ended. This should ensure that they have access to accurate information in your absence
  • For those that are difficult to engage with online, and if feasible, you could include a postcard / note with the next postal communication to 6th year students with key links/ updates/ information or a copy of the ‘tips’ sheet.

“Taking Stock”: Questionnaire for 6th year students

“Tips Sheet” for 6th year students

Populating your 'out of office' reply

 


 

Where you have been in direct contact with students or parents it is a good idea to set an 'out of office' reply on your e-mail account once you reach the end of term. The final content of this is best decided by individual Guidance Counsellors; dependent on the expected profile of the individual(s) who may seek to make contact.

As a general rule it would be a good idea to provide links to websites or resources of ongoing relevance to student / parent needs.
This information may be provided directly on (for example) the Guidance section of the school website in its entirety or individual links could be listed on the 'auto reply' itself. It would be important to be cogniscent that, in so far as possible, the external links provided should be of a nature that are maintained / updated over the coming months.

 


The below are samples of relevant external links:

Information relating to Leaving Certificate 2020 and the calculation of grades

Leaving Certificate 2020 (Home Page) (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: FAQs (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (Home Page) (DES)

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (PDF) (DES)


Information relating to supporting student wellbeing

Wellbeing Information and Resources (Government of Ireland)

In This Together (Government of Ireland)

Advice & resources for keeping children and young people well during Covid-19 (NEPS)


We would also suggest that you consult the 3 x most recent NCGE resources - a direct link to these should not however be provided to students / parents.


 

 

 

It is important to continue to offer support to ALL 6th years students (to the best of your ability) at this time.

 

Discussions are taking place with all relevant bodies with regard to PLC courses and the situation is evolving.
Updates will be available in time.

 

HEAR and DARE are continuing with their processes with associated institutions as they would in any given year.  

See - Higher Education Access Route Website

 

Guidance Counsellors should not be part of the process where the calculation of grades is concerned unless that Guidance Counsellor is also teaching a 6th year class in an examinable subject. If it is the case that a Guidance Counsellor is teaching a subject to 6th years, they will calculate the grades for that class group in accordance with processes outlined by the Department of Education and Skills.

See - Protocol for Guidance Counsellors and members of the Student Support Team

For all information relating to the calculation of grades please refer to the below.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (PDF) (DES)

Leaving Certificate 2020 (Information Portal) (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (Information Portal) (DES)

 

The Department of Education and Skills are aware of students in the system who had planned to complete the Leaving Certificate in some subjects only and / or outside of the school environment.

For more detail, refer to Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

 

An Irish language version of the questionnaire is now available (15/05/20).
To access it please click below.

 “Taking Stock”: Questionnaire for 6th year students - NCGE
 

At the current time Guidance Counsellors will be responsible for providing a Guidance service up to the end of this Summer term (May 29th).

See - Protocol for Guidance Counsellors and members of the Student Support Team

Sometimes a Guidance Counsellor will make themselves available to students in August on the day of results and/or when the CAO offers come out.
This may be continued (bearing in mind ongoing developments) at the discretion of the Guidance Counsellor, in line with previous practice and in agreement with school management.

In your role as Guidance Counsellor, you will be supporting students one-to-one and in small groups for the remainder of the academic year.
However, the topic of calculated grades is not to be discussed with the student.
It is a requirement that Guidance Counsellors declare this at the beginning of all interactions with students at the current time.

See - Protocol for Guidance Counsellors and members of the Student Support Team

Where course requirements are an issue, students should use their CAO course choices wisely.
As has been the case for many years, students should put their course choices on the CAO in order of preference.
If the requirements for the CAO first choice aren't met then the second choice may be offered and so on.

The calculation of grades will be undertaken by the subject teacher involved, in accordance with a process outlined by the Department of Education and Skills.

For all information relating to the calculation of grades please refer to the below.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (PDF) (DES)

Leaving Certificate 2020 (Information Portal) (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (Information Portal) (DES)

As Guidance Counsellors we have no role in the calculation of grades.

If parents contact you as a Guidance Counsellor with regard to the calculated grades it is not your role to respond.

You should let school management know you have been contacted by a parent, and let the parent know that you have advised school management.
It might be helpful to establish the school protocol across the Student Support Team with respect to communcications received from with parents - in line with official Government and Department of Education and Skills guidelines.

For more detail, refer to the 'Objectivity and fairness of the approach' section of Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

For all information relating to the calculation of grades please refer to the below.

A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (PDF) (DES)

Leaving Certificate 2020 (Information Portal) (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate 2020: Information and Resources - including FAQs (Government of Ireland)

Leaving Certificate Students 2020 (Information Portal) (DES)

 

Protocol for Guidance Counsellors and members of the Student Support Team

Students remain students of the school until the end of the school term. In terms of the school’s role in supporting the wellbeing of Leaving Certificate students, the role of the Student Support Team as set out in the guidance issued recently to schools, should remain available until the end of the school term (31st May 2020).

Guidance Counsellors are permitted to continue to provide guidance counselling support to 6th year students (1:1 and small group work). Guidance counselling support may be provided to students wishing to discuss their social personal, education and career concerns.

However, In advance of any planned interaction with students a clear statement must be communicated to students and parents/guardians that the guidance counsellor will not be engaging in discussions regarding the calculated grading process or potential marks awarded by teachers. Guidance Counsellors, teachers and students may not discuss the student’s achievement in the subject over the past two years.  Nor can they discuss the student’s ranking in a class, or their estimated mark or the level at which an estimated mark is to be provided in a subject.

All conversations between Leaving Certificate students and members of the School’s Student Support Team, during this time, need to be prefaced with a statement such as the following: 

‘As part of our conversation today we are prohibited from having any discussion about student achievement over the past 2 years, student ranking in a class, student’s estimated mark  or the level an estimated mark is to be provided in a subject.  If our conversation strays into speaking about any of these matters, our meeting will have to cease immediately.’ 

As confirmed by DES 13/05/2020

 

It is important to bear on mind that the use of any online platform / tool should be in line with school policy regarding remote / ICT provision.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) has developed online courses and resources prepared specifically to help teachers as they continue to teach and support their students' learning online during school closures due to COVID-19.
Many schools have online systems suitable for this type of support and other schools are encouraged to visit the PDST 'technology page' site to learn more about a wide range of available platforms and apps. 

PDST - Technology


Additional information can be found in the Continuity of Guidance Counselling - Guidelines for schools providing online support for students (DES) and

Support information for Guidance Counsellors in Schools (NCGE) documents.

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) have also published ICT guidelines for their members 


Webwise provides a range of free primary and secondary school teaching resources addressing a range of topics including cyberbullying, image-sharing, social media and more. Check out their range of curriculum-aligned resources and videos - webwise.ie


Zoom

A number of webinar attendees have asked regarding the use and security considerations of the ZOOM platform.
It is again important to bear on mind that the use of any platform should be in line with school policy.
Below is information in relation to ZOOM that may assist in informing such policy.

What is ZOOM? (Webwise)

Privacy & Security for Zoom Video Communications (ZOOM)

 

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) is the country’s largest single support service offering professional learning opportunities to teachers and school leaders in a range of pedagogical, curricular and educational areas. They have created and curated a number of dedicated sections on their website in support of teachers and learners working remotely in the context of Covid-19 school closures. These can be accessed below.

PDST - Distance Learning - HUB


Learning for All is a live webinar series from the Teaching Council and PDST which started on Tuesday, 31 March, to help support learning from home in these changing times.

Learning for All